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OK, I've got some free time in the lounge during my layover between Dubai and LAX, so I'll try to get in Ferrari World.


First off - getting from Dubai to Abu Dhabi seems, in retrospect, ridiculously simple. Dubai isn't THAT big a place, and the main road (Sheikh Zayed Road) in the main artery... and if you keep going west, you leave Dubai, and enter Abu Dhabi. A little further, and you get to Yas Island, with LOTS of signs referring to the Yas Island Marina Circuit, where they host the Formula 1 race annually. This is also where they have an IKEA store... and Ferrari World.



I am excited to be here!


In the end, I arranged a car service through my hotel - I was freaked out by the whole "driving overseas" thing, and really should have just rented a car and drive myself. Ah well, live and learn. There's also bus services (which are dirt cheap) but seem like a pain - tour companies need to step up on this and start running shuttles back and forth. Also, FWIW, there's a fair amount of promotion of Ferrari World in Dubai.



I feel welcomed at the Welcome Pavilion


As a warning, there will be a lot of pictures, because I have a tendency to be a completist about documenting stuff.



The glass well holding G-Force acts as a "wienie", being in the middle and orienting yourself in the building. You know, like a castle. But not.


Soooo... did this thing ever run? And how do you replace it when you literally built the building around it?


Walking in to Ferrari World feels a LOT like walking into a major new airport... closest is probably the giant new Beijing Terminal built for the Olympics... incredibly HUGE open space, very clean (scarily clean!) but almost antiseptic. Which is impressive, but pretty much the opposite from the gritty, (simulated) real life/fantasy feeling of a Disney or Universal themepark. Also a huge improvement over cracked pavement and dirty concrete, mind you.


Of course, maybe if your theme is "luxury car factory" being insanely clean IS part of the theme.


Clean... very clean. Note the person cleaning... like 30 minutes after opening, in case someone had touched something.


After passing by the park's mascot (a bipedal camel dressed as a Ferrari driver, sadly I was too pumped to think to get a picture) I followed the advice of the girl selling me my ticket, and headed back to the racing simulators



Yes, this DOES look like a professional flight simulator... for cars.


They have a bank of 8 <?> simulators that are free with a timed ticket... and were easily the best racing game I've tried. Very sharp motion and more realistic feel than your average arcade. The big attraction were the two upcharge simulators (one pictured above) which looked EXACTLY like a pro-grade flight trainer. I was pressed for time, and declined to pay.


Scuderia Challenge accepted!



It's easy to find inspiration in Ferrari's history all around you.


Now it was time to head to the left side of the park and check out the "main event".


The big reason to come here.


To echo other folks, they stations are remarkably bland... in contrast to the coaster cars, which are easily the most beautiful I have ever seen. I neglected to take pictures of FR in the general adrenaline/fear/preparations of boarding. First off, I barely fit on the thing... I'm a bigger guy and Intamins are always tough, primarily because of my general fatness, but exaggerated by having high floors which push my thighs up and forces a serious squeeze. FR was particularly bad in this regard, and there was much appreciated efforts by the ride ops to get me into the seat belt.


I loved the goggles... and the fact that they made the ride ops give a total pass to wearing glasses on the ride.


The launch is, obviously, completely insane... the acceleration is ridiculous, and lasts far longer than seems possible. The trims on the first hill are completely necessary; I have no idea how anyone would survive going over such a short (190'!) hill at that speed. That said, it would be something if they tuned them down on certain runs or time of day to provide some ejector airtime, instead of the floater that occurs.


The rest of the ride is surprisingly strong - it's an incredibly smooth coaster, and some of the turns seem like you could reach out a hand and touch the ground.


Overall a VERY unique ride, and not likely to be upset anytime soon.


After which, I hiked over to the other side of the park to check out the other ride, Fiorano GT Challenge



Who doesn't like to race?


Overall, this is a great complimentary ride to FR: family friendly, medium weight thrill, fun, thematically consistent, pretty unique - how many other racing coasters get built, really? And car racing is a pretty good theme for one!


I really liked this ride for what it is - not a huge thrill machine, but it delivers what it's supposed to... and for once, all the braking into turns, then accelerating out of them makes sense thematically!


Hands down the prettiest coaster cars in the world. Just look at the interiors!


Annnnd... they're off!


The GT course


Now onto the many other attractions at Ferrari World -



Speed of.... MAGIC! AKA, "Give Me Back My Keys!"

Speed of Magic is well produced - but lacking in physical effects. Plus, the story, though well told, is weird. It seemed desparate to use the Spiderman tech, without a real reason why.


Learn where baby Ferrari's come from!

The Ferrari Factory tour is the ride where it looks like budget cuts got made... it turned into a lame EPCOT pavillion ride real fast... ironic considering it's supposed to sell you on the fine craftsmanship of insanely expensive cars.


If I remember my French, this means "Italian Mushrooms"

The Bella Italia driving course is very pretty, and a good centerpiece to the park. It also had the longest line of the day by a wide margin!


The course resembles a model train landscape more than anything


Supposedly Soarin' Over Italy is coming soon?

The other Omnimover type ride goes through the history of Ferrari racing greatness... and is still very EPCOT-esque, but with widescreen footage of racing, is actually decent.


A LOT better than "Made in Maranello"


Did I mention the building is HUGE?


Park map, you know, for the park map people.


A Schumacher championship car (from 2000), back when my employer sponsored F1 instead of NASCAR. Ahh, the good old days.


The attractions really do round out the park pretty well... The Pit Wall is again, very EPCOT multimedia quiz show; large screen movie of Italy, etcetera. Didn't see the theatre show, but it got good applause.


The pleasant surprise was the actual motion simulator, where the ride film was actually funny, original, and had GREAT in car film footage. Pretty impressive for a low expectations attraction.


V12: Inside the Engine may be the weirdest ride I've been on. First of all, indoor log flume. Second, in the dark. Third, it's supposed to take you through a car engine? Huh. Again, it looks like they could have spent some more money finishing this one up. Plus, since it's indoors, the attraction building is crazy humid and chlorine stanky.


The roundup of kids attractions and general Ferrari stuff in the park finishes things off nicely. The food selection is themepark pricey, but actually decent and fresh.


All in all, I spent 4.5 hours there, rode the coasters 5-6 times each, and saw most (but not all) of the attractions - with almost no lines. It may not be a 12 hour day park, but you can definitely fill up a day.


Next door, this is going on to compliment the indoor park:


Grainy shot of construction next door.


So, this is supposed to be a waterpark opening at the end of 2012? So, what's up with the inverted coaster?



Goodbye Ferrari World!

And how great is it that you can see the Ferrari logo from the F1 racetrack?


Afterwards, I went to pop into Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque. Think what you will about Islam, but holy cow, the craftsmanship on this building:


Exterior - shiny white and huge




Every pattern is hand-inlaid stonework.


Handwoven Persian carpet - about 2 football fields worth


This captures a bit of the scale of the chandelier



The place is a definite "must see" if you're going to Ferrari World, maybe 20 minutes away by car.


OK, that's it for Abu Dhabi - a bit more from Dubai next time.


Next stop - LA and the West Coast Bash!


Kid-sized driving courses.

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  • 1 month later...
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  • 3 weeks later...
It's always great to see others opinions of places I know very well. Thanks for sharing.

If you are ever back this way drop me a pm and I could give you a tour if some of the more ghetto park!


I hope to get back over to Dubai at some point, but probably not this year - would love to see some of the wackier stuff and will definitely take you up on your offer!

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  • 2 months later...

As mentioned in my previous update (from several months ago!) I had business in Kenya, with some meetings in my companies regional office in Dubai... which was exciting as I had never been to Dubai before.


As my prior post shows, I took some time to enjoy Wild Wadi & Ferrari World before heading to Kenya. In Kenya, it was almost all work... though we did take a Saturday morning to do some touristic stuff, including visiting baby elephants.


If you've been to your local science center lately, one of the popular nature documentaries out right now is "Born to be Wild", narrated (like everything) by Morgan Freeman. The movie focuses on people who are taking care of orphan animals and raising them to be released back into the wild.


In Nairobi, Kenya, one of these organizations is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which (among it's many worthy conservation programs) famously takes in orphan elephants and rhinos. These are babies whose parents have typically been killed by poachers... in other words, this is where "Little Red" would be going if he wasn't bolted to the floor of that truck in Orlando!


Here's some cute pictures before heading back to Dubai:



Out for a jog.


Putting on sunscreen


Breakfast time!


Just pour 'er in


Say hi Maxwell!


After our Kenya visit, we went back to Dubai for a couple days. Our hotel was The Address (a local Dubai hotel company... swanky! And a decent price) at the Dubai Mall. I arrived late, the hotel was overbooked, so to honor my reservation, they upgraded me to a 3 bedroom apartment with this view:



Sort of gets you going early in the morning, I suppose


Right over there is the World's Largest Mall, alongside World's Largest Fountain Show, yadda, yadda...


Since I had a hotel attached to the world's largest mall, it was time to go exploring!



Fancy waterfall at the Dubai Mall


In case you forgot we were still in the middle of the desert - camel burger for lunch? Anyone?


Maybe this is more your speed


Because the Dubai Mall is so ridiculously big, they smartly chunked it out into different zones... some looking like a (nice) normal mall, a section that is all high fashion brands, a zone with restaurants overlooking the lagoon, and a section with family entertainment stuff... a movie theater, ice skating rink, food court, and, of course, Sega Republic.


I had only ever seen "arcades" like this in Japan... and honestly, this was on the same scale as the big ones I had seen in Tokyo. BIG! Like puts Sega World in Las Vegas to shame big. Also, nice and open (high ceilings), and unique attractions.


I went as soon as they opened for a couple hours, but an unlimited wristband, and went back after dinner with some coworkers.


The major attraction is, or course, Sonic, which does NOT suck... in fact, for what it is (an indoor coaster at a fancy FEC) is actually quite good! Decent theming, comfy cars, smooth ride, and, if you're lucky enough to unbalance the car enough, a fun ride!



Onwards to Sega Republic & SpinGear!


I'm pretty sure "dark" is part of the theming.


Obligatory car shot.


They also have two simulator attractions - one "air tour" and one "jeep tour" which, again, for what they are, do NOT suck! That said, not re-rideable, like most simulators.


Other attractions included in the wristband are:

- Crazy bobsled game/ride; lapbar & harness required, because when you drive it into powerups, your ride vehicle rolls 360 or 720!

- "Real" car simulators... you hop in an actual car body on a motion base with a screen in front of you and drive

- Sonic mini-drop tower - cute for kids (and impressive they fit this indoors) but cable driven, no real air time

- Shooting "simulator" where you pull out guns, shoot screens covered in bugs, with the twist that your seats spin 180 to face another screen at times

- The crazy skateboarding halfpipe simulator! I did this at least a dozen times - without a doubt the most interesting and FUN attraction - airtime, under your control (sort of) and just a great whooshing feeling. If you put this in the right places, people would line up to pay for this.. and the fact that you & a partner (if you have one) are competing against another team makes it even better



Of course, they have other attractions in Sega Republic


Some are interesting...


Some are disturbing...


Some are really fun!


Overall, totally worth visiting if you're in Dubai!


The rest of Dubai Mall also includes the Dubai Aquarium, and of course, crazy views of the Burj Dubai - not to mention the entrance for "The Top" world's highest observation deck.



The Dubai Mall also contains other wonders/records




You can walk on water! The Dubai Mall is amazing!


Countdown to Extinction debunked: It wasn't asteroids, it was penguins that ended the dinosaurs! All hail the penguin emperor!


I'm pretty sure this restaurant has a different name in America. I guess "sensitivity" knows no borders


I didn't take the opportunity to stock up on gold.


Finally, some water/tower side dining!


And, of course, the super amazing Dubai Fountain show!


After finishing up a couple days of meetings, it was time to head back to the US... but I traveled eastwards instead of west.


Why? Two reasons:


First: To try out Korean's new A380 (my first flight on the superjumbo)


My ride home!


Second: Because I was stopping in LA for my first West Coast Bash!

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  • 11 months later...

I just realized I hadn't updated this in a whole year... lots to get caught up on.


Let's start with, oh, say... yesterday, when I made my first trip to the lengendary EFTELING


Well, first let's start with this picture from the Belgian airport:


Yes, this is essentially a bar covered with giant piles of giant bricks of chocolate.


Like Legoland if Lego were made from chocolate.



I was lucky enough to find a room for Friday night at the famous Efteling hotel - sadly they were fully booked for Saturday. Even better, not only was breakfast included, but so is park admission during your stay... which means I could get an hour in Friday night. Or afternoon... these guys need to stay open later than 6pm, especially when the sun doesn't go down until nearly 9!


The hotel is obviously very unique, and very cool. Having free parking, and a short walk to a backdoor entrance to the park doesn't hurt either!



Like a floating castle...



Where's George when you need him?


After getting checked in, I hightailed it straight over to the park itself... at around 5. Not much time to get started, so I headed straight to the "Rough Realm" home of all the 'big rides'.


My first stop was the 'Flying Dutchman'



The Flying Dutchman ride building is a true work of art.


I had a pretty good idea of what to expect - dark ride beginning, small-ish watercoaster ending. The fact that you can see the whole ride essentially from the outside doesn't leave much to the imagination.


BUT... I was completely blown away by this ride, mainly because of the dark ride portion. Obviously, give these guys Disney size budgets and they'd make a ride twice as long, with double the capacity, but... the Flying Dutchman's beginning is really, REALLY spectacular theme park art. The queue is immersive, the music is moodsetting and original, the ride vehicles of highest quality, and it sets up a storyline and reason for the ride to be the ride it is!


The effects are good... and all working! In particular, the rain storm is a "go for broke" amount of rain, not just sprinkling. And as a first time rider, I thought we were about to get drenched. Just great stuff!





Add to all that the fact that the finale of the ride adds motion and dynamicism to a very nice corner of the park, and it's a total hit.


Next up: George & the Dragon.


Being a fan of woodies, I was excited. Not the biggest/fastest/etcetera, but definitely fun looking, and who doesn't like fun?



Racing goodness!


The queue and station decor reminded me a LOT of Wodan from my visit to Europa Park last summer... not anywhere close to the scale of it, but the whole heroic music / knight thing in the station. Friday evening I only had time for one ride on the 'Ice' side, but since there were a few stragglers still in line, they sent us through a second time.


The ride is basically really fun! Not a huge drop, but the speed starts on the turnaround at the top of the lift and never lets up! The triple-up over the station is very cool, and the ride basically doesn't let up after that. Definitely achieves the aim of a racer, clearly not focused on airtime... and that's OK! It absolutely achieves the goal of a very fun woodie for the family market. Highly re-rideable, and some great speed and serious turns. Of course, the racing aspect is great, and I love the fact that they declare a winner - would we ever see that in a US park? Riders do actually cheer and boo when the announcement is made - very good show!



A giant animatronic that actually works!


Hey! You! Look up there!


The staff take closing time VERY SERIOUSLY and actually closed queues ahead of the 6pm posted closing time... if there was a 15 minute wait, queue closed at 5:45 so you would be done at closing time. Very un-Disney! The second evening, even the bathrooms were being locked up at 6 on the nose...


So, what else to do but go check out AQUANURA, Efteling's big new fountain show at 6:15.

Which I didn't take any pictures of.


Why not? Because it was 6:15... and the sun was still fully up. It's very clear that Efteling spent a TON of money on this show - the scale and variety of fountain effects are world-class, the music is great, the setting is great... but during daylight hours just won't impress much. I went and checked out the videos of the night shows, and was appropriately WOWed... but during daylight it's just nice, and big. Imagine seeing DCA's WoC during daylight, with no actual colors, and no projections.


I'd love to see Aquanura at night. Sigh.


So, Saturday morning after packing up, breakfasting, checking out, I headed out to enjoy the 30 minute early entry hotel guests get to attractions down in that corner of the park.


First up: Vogel Rok.



Vogel Rok? More like Vogel ROCKS! Amiright?


Great entrance, and supposedly the queue is great, but I was fortunate enough to not have to experience it. Took 3 rides in a row, and I have to say (queue broken record here) that this is a well done, solid ride for the family audience. The ride is super-smooth, totally dark, gets some good intensity in the turns and helices, great onboard music, and has some cool effects. Clearly not a game-changer, but a solid part of the Efteling portfolio. See a theme here?


Next I scampered past a lot of other stuff to make it up to the Spookslot castle gate with the rest of the paying public - so that I might hurry over to BOB



Let's play 'spot the coaster'


Behind a very pretty station is a very nice bobsled coaster... doing what bobs do, swerving around through a very thick and lush forest.


It's really important to mention at some point (and probably repeat this): Efteling is CRAZY PRETTY. You can tell this was a nature park before they put in 'real rides'. There's SO MUCH landscaping, massive trees, flowers, ponds, and even LAWNS. Pretty much everywhere you go, there's honest-to-goodness giant swathes of grass with for-real local Nederlanders sprawled out on blankets with their families enjoying a beautiful day. There aren't many theme parks (let alone zoos, etc) in the US that have this sort of feel, and it's awesome. If you lived nearby I really believe it would be worth having an annual pass just to enjoy the park, maybe take a train ride, etc in the summer. Good stuff.



The sign warns that this is 20 minute ride!


I headed back over to the "Rough Realm" to get some rides on George's 'fire' side, and then took in Python.


Upside down!

I'd talk more about Python, but... why? OK, so the trains are new... ish? And have a fancy python paint job, plus the Vekoma wide-OTSR bars with soft restraints, all the better to reduce headbanging. So now, it isn't a painful ride, just a 'meh' one. (Of course, that's probably good the family audie... ahem).


Then I doubled back to Piranha, the rapids ride. After the Flying Dutchman, the massive themed building exterior over-sold this... solid rapids ride, but nothing amazing. Ah well.


We've got traffic on the 405...


On a positive note - Mexican food, and more importantly, cerveza to be had waterside.


Thence, on to FATA MORGANA



Not actually EPCOT - you can tell, because here they've got a ride.


Definitely a signature ride. I'd go so far as to say the best non-Pirates boat ride in the world? Anyone agree/disagree?



Great music.

Definite storyline.

Good animatronics.

Atmospheric special effects.

Original story.

Efficient high capacity ride system.

Fits park thematically.

Risk taking in ending with an UNHAPPY ending.


Really impressed.


Doubling back to Spookslot - interesting. I can see why, historically, this must have been important to the park as it began to move away from the 'life size diorama' to the 'modern theme park attraction' and I'm guessing is liked because of that history. As a theme park nerd, I liked it, but I can't see this wowing teenagers... and maybe that's OK.


Next door is PANDADROOM. Which I orginally thought sounded like PANDA APOCALYPSE but turns out means "Panda Vision". Oh well.


So, yeah, really well done for a 4D movie.... it's fair to say the post-show & food location is 80% as cool as a Rainforest Cafe, so that's pretty impressive, when you think about it.



Prettiest pizza cafeteria in the world?


After this, it was time to wander around and enjoy a lot of the smaller, more classic attractions... mainly because the lines were pretty ridiculous for the big stuff.



I'm pretty sure this is the same size as the one in Anaheim

The many, MANY fairy tale displays were very cool. They need to get a smartphone app that reads them in other languages though... this would be mega-cool. Of course, I'm sure 95%+ of visitors aren't as linguistically challenged as I am.


How long is my neck?


One that deserves special note - the Indian Water Lillies.


Apparently, a very ugly witch could sing really well, but got jealous of the fairies beauty, so turned them into water lillies, and they only turn back to fairies in the light of the full moon to join her in song... along with a frog/troll band? It also has a very catchy tune. I guarantee you that if this was longer and had seating, there would be a LOT of recreational drug use in the cave that houses it.


Don't question, just enjoy the show.


The Carousel Palace has what is probably the most beautiful carousel installation in the world - partly because of aesthetics, but also because of the amazing band organ, and the fact that the horses gallop (not just go up & down) and the sleighs rock side to side - gorgeous stuff.


Most beautiful carousel in the world?


The final major area I hadn't done yet hosts two of the most popular attractions - Dreamgflight and Raveljin. I didn't think to snag tickets to Ravelijin (they have kiosks that give out free seating assignments) but did manage to get on Dreamflight - and it's a doozy.


Hard to compare - some folks compare it to Peter Pan (because of the overhead ride system) but... it's basically amazing, another classic ride that needs more press outside the local area. Like Fata Morgana, one of the best dark rides out there, beautiful, unique, and just amazing stuff.


Also nearby - who doesn't like a good train ride? And I always love parks that celebrate their history, so having a small museum of their 6- years in business is great.


Also - Villa Volta.


My, what a lovely home!

I'm pretty sure the magic in this attraction is lost because of my 0% knowledge of Dutch. The home is beautiful, the animatronic giving the introduction is INCREDIBLE - especially in that you're a foot away from him. The main chamber is utterly gorgeous - and the music and programming are very good - but that was where it ended for me. Cool, but not amazing. Unlike the other major Efteling attractions, not knowing the full story limits the drama of Villa Volta.





Final thoughts - basically, a completely outstanding theme park. Maybe not a complete coaster-lovers dream, but it should be a dream destination for theme park lovers. Not the ride horsepower of Europa Park, but incredibly beautiful and unique park & attractions. A definite wow!



Entrance building - the House of the Five Senses


Seriously? How pretty is this park?

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